Two friends who were hunchbacks lived on opposite sides of Schiehallion, one at Braes of Foss on the east side, the other near Tempar on the west. Every Sunday one would visit the other, turn and turn about.

One fine summer evening, the Braes of Foss hunchback set out to visit his friend. As the weather was fine, he went a long way round, and it was near to midnight when he drew near to a little low cave by a burn below a knoll, where he heard voices and the patter of tiny feet. Continuing more carefully, he saw fairies dancing above the knoll. Over and over again they were singing the same thing: ‘Saturday, Sunday’.

Entranced by their singing, the man had a burning desire to join in, and finally he burst in at the end with: ‘Monday, Tuesday’. The hunchback had a fine voice, and the fairies danced round and round in delight, singing the whole phrase:’Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday’.

At last some of them approached the man. Once said to another, ‘What do you wish for him who gives such lovely words for our song?’

‘We ask that his hump will fall off, so that he will stand straight as a rush.’

‘We wish him also the best of health’ said another fairy.

‘And that he has plenty to the end of his days’, said a third.

Taking his farewell of the fairies, the man went on his way, light of heart and light of step now he was upright as a soldier. His friend hardly recognised him when he arrived.

He explained how he had met the fairies and added to their song. “I’ll do the same’ said the hunchback of Tempar, and immediately hurried off. When he reached the knoll he immediately heard the fairies singing ‘Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday,’ and he immediately added in a loud harsh, unpleasant voice: ‘Wednesday, Thursday’.

As soon as the fairies heard him, they stopped dancing and dragged him to the ground, jumping on him and pinching him. Angry fairies came forward, saying, ‘What shall we do to the man who spoils our song?’

‘Make his hump two,’ said one.

‘Let him be the ugliest man alive,’ said a second.

‘And may he grow bigger and bigger to his death day,’ said a third.

The man made his way painfully home, hardly able to walk, partly because of the two humps he now carried, but mostly because of all the while getting bigger and bigger. When he got back to his own house, the first hunchback, who had been waiting for him, scarcely knew him, he was so big and ugly, and disfigured now by two humps. All too soon he had grown too big to get inside his house, and so had to sleep outside, summer and winter alike, and it took seventeen blankets to cover him. This went on as the fairies had promised to the day he died, by which time he was so big that it took twenty coffins to hold him.

One thought on “Schiehallion

  1. Pingback: Metamorphosis | Agitation of the Mind

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